Small charities and the Autumn Statement

On Wednesday 23rd November at 12.30pm the chancellor will deliver the Autumn Statement, the second of the two most important economic statements that the chancellor gives every year, the first being the Budget.

The Autumn Statement is important for small charities as the policies of the Governement announced in the statement can have significant impact on the work that small charities do i.e. changes to devolution and business rates etc.

The statement is the opportunity for the Chancellor to update MPs on the government’s tax and spending plans. These are based on economic projection provided by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) which was set up in 2020 to provide independent economic forecasts.

Every Autumn Statement is one of the key points in the CFG policy team’s calendar and this one is particularly important. It will be the first one that the new chancellor, Phillip Hammond, will present and it is also the first since the UK voted to leave the EU.

Therefore, this Autumn Statement will set the tone for government’s approach to the economy for the rest of the Parliament. For more analysis on this you can download CFG’s economic outlook briefing on the website.

What have CFG called for?
The ahead of the statement we coordinate other leading charity sector bodies (including Small Charities Coalition and NAVCA) to develop a set of proposals aimed at supporting the sector, specifically focusing on small charities, which we then submit to the chancellor for inclusion in the statement.

The proposals focused on three areas: economic growth, supporting people to take ownership of their local areas, and driving innovation in technology.

Economic Growth
1. Reduce irrecoverable VAT for charities – the government should phase in a rebate scheme to enable all charities to reclaim VAT incurred on non-business income over five years and convert existing ‘exemptions’ into ‘zero-ratings’ or ‘options to tax’ so that VAT can be recovered.

2. Introduce a strategic approach to voluntary sector funding to ensure funding for voluntary organisations outside of normal departmental spending is distributed on an impartial basis according to the sector’s strategic needs. This policy was specifically developed in light of the previous iniquitous allocation of Libor fines.

Supporting communities to take ownership of their local areas
3. A Community Capital Fund should be created to provide central support and resources for asset ownership, with a particular emphasis on supporting community asset transfer. This will work to empower communities so that they have a real stake in their local areas and support the delivery of vital services at a time when there is massive pressure on the public purse.

4. Partnership Hubs – these hubs should engender partnerships between local authorities and the local voluntary and community sector in the most deprived areas, with a view to identify and understand needs and solutions in the local community.

Driving Innovation in Technology
5. A Voluntary Sector Technology Fund to support small charities to purchase new software and/or hardware equipment. This would enable charities to fight against fraud, increase their efficiency and potentially develop innovative ways to engage with the people and communities that they support

6. Connect for Good – a programme to bring together graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, to collaborate with charities on software projects in events around the country with specific focus on reaching deprived communities. The aim of this programme is to create ready-to-use products that charities can use immediately as well as identifying and responding to future issues.

For full details of the proposals and the rationale behind them, download the full document sent to the chancellor on the CFG website.
Follow CFG’s live blog for updates
The policy team will be running a live blog from today (Tuesday 22nd November). This will include:
– coverage of the rumours around the statement ahead of Wednesday and what this could mean for the sector;
– key announcements as the chancellor makes them on Wednesday and early analysis of the impact on charities;
Keep an eye on the blog so that you can get the earliest possible insight into what the Chancellor’s announcements mean for your charity and beneficiaries. CFG will also be posting updates via twitter: follow #volsecAS and @cfg_smlcharity

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